New laws come into place today to make company directors accountable for plaguing people with nuisance calls. How soon could the Information Commissioner’s Office use their new powers?
Most people you talk to can share a frustrating story about nuisance calls and spam texts. We share that pain. In fact, we’ve been campaigning for five years to put a stop to the problem.
We were pleased that in 2015 the UK Government reduced the legal threshold for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to act and issue fines of up to £500,000 to companies that were found to be breaching the law relating to nuisance calls.
But bosses have still been getting away with it – that’s until today.
Making bosses accountable
The first recommendation of Which?’s taskforce report for the UK Government, published in 2014, was to consider introducing legislation to enable board-level executives to be held accountable for the actions of their company.
Companies that unlawfully make unsolicited marketing communications by phone or text message can be fined by the ICO. However, enforcement action can only be taken against the company, rather than an individual company director.
In some cases, rogue directors are able to avoid the fines by closing one company and starting up another with a new name, known as phoenixing, to continue their activity.
After many years working on this, new legislation comes into place today that will change that. The ICO will now have the power to issue fines directly to the directors of these companies, as well as to the companies themselves.
This is a great win for Which? and the half a million people who have supported us in our campaign.
Fighting for consumers
Good progress has been made in this issue, with the ICO figures estimating that the number of nuisance calls have been falling. But we know they still exist, and we think that making the individuals responsible will continue to reduce the number of these rogue operations in existence.
This is of course just one tool in the box in ending nuisance calls, and should be used in conjunction with the others available, but we’re keen to see the ICO swiftly use these new powers to demonstrate that there will be no escape from tough action.
Do you think today’s new law will reduce the number of nuisance calls being made in the UK? How quickly do you want to see the ICO act? Do you have any tips for avoiding cold callers?